Pablo Picasso, Femmes D’alger Dans Leur Appartement
Femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement (d'après Delacroix), 1ere variation; and Femmes d'Alger, 2eme variation: four states, 1955. The four states of the second variation are annotated on the reverse in pencil. The very rare, complete set of five lithographs with needle, scraper and litho crayon, including the 1st variation (one state) and 2nd variation (the complete set of four states on a smaller stone), on Arches paper, all with full margins, one I. 11 x 13 3/4 in (27.9 x 34.9 cm);four I. 9 1/4 x 13 1/4 in (23.5 x 33.7 cm) all signed and numbered by Fernand Mourlot, there were five proofs of each state printed, there was no edition, all in very good condition, all framed.
Fernand Mourlot, Paris, 1955 Heiner Hachmeister, Münster, 1984 Hans-Joachim Weber, Paderborn, 2003
Fernand Mourlot 265-266; not in Georges Bloch; Felix Reusse 659-663; Bernd Rau 606-610
The complete set of Femmes d’Alger have only appeared at auction together once before at the Sotheby’s Fernand Mourlot collection, November 14, 1994. These images were amazingly made by transferring a negative impression of an etching to zinc, then a needle and scraper were used to develop each progressive state. The extensive work to each state probably made the plate difficult to print from and resulted in abandoning an edition. The beautiful embossing from the deep scraping is quite apparent and gives the surface a texture not found in many lithographs. These experimental lithographs were done in January-March, 1955, in between the various fifteen paintings Picasso did of the same subject between December and April. This series of paintings and lithographs with The Women of Algiers as its theme was inspired by the paintings of Delacroix and conceived as a tribute to the recently deceased Matisse, Picasso’s artistic colleague. When questioned about this series, Picasso remarked to Roland Penrose, “When Matisse died he left his odalisques to me as a legacy and this is my idea of the Orient though I have never been there.” During a morning we spent with Les femmes d’Alger [painting(s)], Picasso showed us a schoolboy’s exercise-book that had belonged to Delacroix. He kept it lying open in the little engraving-room where the press was… Picasso handled the exercise-book with love. He showed us the writing, and in particular the little drawings in the margins of Delacroix’s schoolboy exercises. Hélène Parmelin, Picasso Plain, New York, 1963, p. 78 …Picasso’s intent oscillates between the professional and the erotic. Conventional sex symbols, forthright as a schoolboy’s graffiti, become the material of sophisticated corrdination. The artists moves from the evocation of female forms blown by desire, to the overall order within which all forms, anatomic and otherwise, serve to articulate surface tension; from the projections of women heaped and proffered like fruit, to stretching the field clear and taut for the charting of information. Leo Steinberg, Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art, New York, 1972, p. 127